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McAfee Raises Cyber Crime Alarm Amid COVID-19

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Cyber security solutions company McAfee has issued a warning on the rise of cyber criminal activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it observed an average of 375 new threats per minute in the first quarter of this year.

In its McAfee COVID-19 Threat Report: July 2020, which examined cyber criminal activity related to COVID-19 and the evolution of cyber threats in first quarter of 2020, the firm says there has been a surge in cyber criminals exploiting the pandemic through COVID-19-themed malicious apps, phishing campaigns and malware.

It says what started as a trickle of phishing campaigns and occasional malicious apps quickly turned into a deluge of thousands of malicious URLs and more-than-capable threat actors “leveraging on our thirst for more information as an entry mechanism into systems across the world.

“It’s no surprise that opportunistic cyber criminals are targeting employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for enterprises to quickly quarantine their workforce has challenged SOCs [security operating centres] and CTOs [chief technology officers] to adapt a secure work-from-home model, the scope of which the security industry has never experienced.”

The report says new PowerShell malware increased 688% over the course of the quarter, while total malware grew 1 902% over the past four quarters.

Disclosed incidents targeting the public sector, individuals, education and manufacturing increased, notes McAfee. These disclosed incidents targeting the public sector increased 73%, individuals increased 59%, education increased 33%, and manufacturing increased 44%.

New mobile malware increased by 71%, with the company adding that total malware grew nearly 12% over the past four quarters.

“Thus far, the dominant themes of the 2020 threat landscape have been cyber criminals’ quick adaptation to exploit the pandemic and the considerable impact cyber attacks have had,” says Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist.

McAfee researchers found it is typical of COVID-19 campaigns to use pandemic-related subjects, including testing, treatments, cures and remote work topics to lure targets into clicking on a malicious link, download a file, or view a PDF.

To track these campaigns, the company has published a COVID-19 Threat Dashboard, which includes top threats leveraging the pandemic, most targeted verticals and countries, and most utilised threat types and volume over time.

“Cyber security cannot be solved by cookie-cutter approaches; each organisation is unique and has specific intelligence requirements and objectives,” says Patrick Flynn, head of McAfee Advanced Programs Group.

“The McAfee COVID-19 Threat Dashboard utilises data to create true analysed intelligence, which allows users to understand the total threat environment, informing them of potential threats before they are weaponised.”

Over the course of the first quarter of 2020, McAfee says it observed malicious actors focus on sectors where availability and integrity are fundamental; for example, manufacturing, law and construction firms.

“No longer can we call these attacks just ransomware incidents. When actors have access to the network and steal the data prior to encrypting it, threatening to leak it if you don’t pay, that is a data breach,” says Christiaan Beek, senior principal engineer and lead scientist at McAfee.

“Using either weakly protected Remote Desktop Protocol or stolen credentials from the underground, we have observed malicious actors moving at light-speed to learn the network of their victims and effectively steal and then encrypt their data.”


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Join Inlaks Live TechTalk Edition on Hyosung’s Revolutionary MV 100 ATM Model

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Inlaks, the leading Information Technology Systems Integrator specialised in the deployment of highly scalable ICT Infrastructure solutions, will on Monday September 28, deploy the second edition of its virtual thought leadership segment called “TechTalk”.

Techtalk which was formerly a pre-recorded segment hosted on the organisations YouTube channel has now transitioned into a live virtual event across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The virtual edition kicked off in August 2020 with a segment on Financial Crime Mitigation, honing in on the superiority of Temenos Financial Crime Mitigation Solution with Emmanuel Orororo, Sales Manager, Financial Business, Inlaks.

The 2nd edition of Tech Talk promises to offer the same measure of insights as it dives into the world of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with a focus on MoniValue 100, a revolutionary ATM solution by Hyosung TNS. The MoniValue 100 is especially adapted to the present times as it is a cardless, contactless and changeless solution.

Join this virtual event live by logging on to any of the social media pages below on Monday, 28th September 2020. YouTube: Inlaks, Facebook: InlaksNg, Twitter: Inlaks, Instagram: InlaksNg

Inlaks is a leading system integrator in Sub-Saharan Africa. The company partners with leading OEMs in the technology industry to provide world-class information technology solutions that exceed the needs of its customers.

Over the years, Inlaks has built a reputation as the foremost ICT and Infrastructure Solutions Provider, helping customers effectively seize new market and service opportunities.

With an impressive customer base that includes six Central Banks in West Africa, 18 of the 24 banks in Nigeria and other major customers in the West African region, Inlaks has become the dominant Information Technology Company in Africa.

Inlaks’ customers cut across various segments including Banking, Telecommunication, Oil/Gas, Power, Utilities and the Distribution sectors of the economy. For more information, please visit www.inlaks.com


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Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

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There were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections over a 7-month period in Nigeria, according to Kaspersky security solutions.

Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

Elsewhere in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections, showing the growing desperation of the attacks.

The company reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves.

However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, Kaspersky researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware.

They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the programme is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programmes on their device and that in some cases, such programmes are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.

Evaluating results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.

Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections.

Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances, Kaspersky said.


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Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

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Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform.

Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online.

In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform.

And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.”

The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.

According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content.

The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads.

“As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.

Luis Di Como, executive vice-president of global media at Unilever, a major advertiser, sounded a note of cautious optimism.

He said: “The issues within the online ecosystem are complicated, and whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Speaking in July, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he remained adamant that the company did not want hate speech on the social network.

On Wednesday, the company’s vice-president for global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said the agreement gave all parties “a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

 


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